“Stalker” App Pulled from iTunes over Safety and Privacy Concerns

An app which uses location-based data to produce a list of nearby women based on their Facebook information has been pulled from the iTunes store, amidst a backlash over violation of users’ privacy.

The app in question, Girls Around Me, was developed by a Russian firm so that users could meet women in their vicinity, although critics highlighted the racy nature of the app’s look and feel, arguing that the app encouraged inappropriate behaviour – accusations that the developer denied.

Creator i-Free Innovations claim that its product “makes it quicker and easier to find and meet people” by collecting information from social networks and presenting it in an “easily understandable format”.

The app compiles data from location-based check in service Foursquare and runs it against any Facebook profiles that may be tied in, to come up with a list of girls (or guys) who are in the vicinity of the user.

Foursquare has since revoked all rights to usage of their data due to privacy concerns – rendering the app useless. This led i-Free to pull the app from the iTunes store of their own accord, and release statement to the Wall Street Journal accusing the media of an overblown reaction to the perceived infringement of civil liberties.

i-Free’s view is that the app’s ability to compile publicly available data such as Foursquare check-ins and public Facebook profiles does not amount to ‘stalking’. The app was  downloaded some 70,000 times before being pulled due to a repetitive fault (presumably Foursquare’s revocation of usage rights); an encouraging enough sign for i-Free that they plan to continue work on another version despite being “scapegoated” by privacy protesters.

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